The kea, the South Island's native mountain parrot, (Nestor notabilis) was listed as a nationally endangered species in 2007 but gained protection in 1986. It is illegal to possess one, dead or alive, or any part of one. If the birds are killed, the perpetrator could face a fine of $100,000 or six months in prison under the Wildlife Act. An extra fine of $5000 per bird could also be imposed. The kea population was an estimated 1000-5000 in the wild in (Anderson, 1986) and 15,000 (Bond & Diamond, 1992). The numbers of keas were substantially reduced with the introduction of man, ferrets, shoats and a bounty - a shilling per beak, from 1883 which resulted in over 150,000 birds being culled. Once the runholder realised the keas had an acquired taste and learnt how to obtain the kidney fat from live sheep by making a small round hole the shepherds, station hands and farmers waged war on the sheep killers with guns and poison poked into sheep caresses. A bright fire on a hillside at night was an irresistible attraction to younger birds. The parrots defence was the wild weather of winter and the wild solitude of the rugged Southern Alps. During the last muster of Sherwood Downs in 1912 one musterer received the largest cheque because he came back with kea beaks. In the evening he would lay pieces of red material over matagouri bushes them mimic the call of the kea. The birds would land on the red material and he would shoot them. Each beak was worth 2 shillings and 6d. Wages were only 10s a day for mustering. The bounty was removed by the Government as late as 1971. The kea is on the IUCN Red List. Vulnerable. Population trend - decreasing. The kea are still predominantly vegetarian eating lichen on stone, roots, shoots and grubs and they are opportunistic feeders so will eat whatever man leaves including the old lead headed nails found on muster's huts. Their nests are in cavities on rock bluffs or amongst a pile of rocks or on the ground or under large boulders and between two and five thousands feet. The female incubates 2-4 eggs twice a year. She is fed near her nest by her male mate who also helps to raise the chicks.
Lead poisoning, car accidents, entrapment in garbage bins, angry farmers, animal traps and poisons have all contributed to kea deaths in past years. The stoat threatens ground-breeding birds like the kea. The inquisitive kea are known to contract lead poisoning from chewing on lead headed nails, car wheel weights and lead shot. A kea died from lead poison in the Mackenzie Country in October 2009 and a juvenile female was found by a hunter in June 2010 by Fox Peak was also confirmed dead due to high levels of lead leading to kidney failure. There are musterers huts, Forest Service huts and National Park huts, outhouses, ski facilities and farm buildings in the Mackenzie with corrugated iron roofs. In March 2007 the DOC was removing external lead from its buildings in the Aoraki-Mount Cook region, 16 years after learning that kea chewing on them were being poisoned.15 dead kea sent to Massey University for diagnostic pathology between 1991 and 1997 and were found 9 to have lead blood levels consistent with causing death. Removing lead headed nails and flashing will help solve this problem.
Timaru Herald 4 July 2012
The kea population stood at between 1000 and 5000 but research on four separate populations indicated numbers were decreasing. Decrease in numbers appeared to be the result of several factors including lead poisoning (from eating the lead off nails in high country huts), degraded environment and predation from stoats and possums. "It would be such a tragedy if we lost them, they are so charismatic," Ms Orr-Walker said. The trust was working on several projects it hoped would help protect kea, including a bird repellent to be included in all 1080 poison. A farmer near Queenstown was working with the trust, trialling a spray that should keep the birds away from sheep. The kea can smell the compound and when they ingest the material they feel sick. Dr Roberts hoped the birds would come to associate the smell with becoming unwell, and stay away from the flock. The birds' intelligence can be their undoing. A Conservation Department worker spent days laying 200 stoat traps in the remote Murchison Valley, as stoats are a major predator of young kea. The keas always remained some distance behind him. It was only when all the traps were set that he realised what the birds had been doing – using a stick to set them off. The age of the birds was also a concern. Whereas they should live to about 30, many were dying when only four or five years old.
THE KEA COUNTRY
Ranges on ranges, far crest on crest,
The long Alp-barriers closed the West,
Like the walls of the Median city old,
A guardian girdle sevenfold.
There grimmest ridges looked softer through
The clinging film of their gentle blue,
Where high in the haze of the summits show
The cool, faint streaks of belated snow.
—William Pember Reeves
Have you ever seen kea country?
I have. It is quite a mistake to think that whenever you are in kea country you will see the birds; considering the expanse of the country, the keas are comparatively few, and the tourist may spend days and even weeks without ever seeing a single bird. They will find you. Try Mt. Dobson, in between Kimbell and Burkes Pass, South Canterbury, South Island. It is a ski area is located northwest 15km from Fairlie and has the highest car park (5500ft) 1692m surrounded by tussock and a haven for keas. They seem to have favourite valleys and peaks, and, if you can get back into the mountain vastnesses and camp in these places, the keas in their native haunts can usually be seen and are intelligent, fun to watch, play and think. In 1884 it was reported a kea untied a knot at first sight which fastened one of their number to a pick handle. You Tube, ski field Dunedin Botanic Garden has an aviary near the Upper Garden car park with a kea breeding programme but is marvellous to see them in the wild. Think inaccessible areas of the South Island, mountain scree, altitude, car parks above the tree line and you will see them. Also look out for them at car parks at Mt Cook, the Homer Tunnel, Milford road where the Routeburn Track ends and Arthur's NP and Fox Glacier. Often you will hear them "kea-kea" and not see them. They are easily attracted by the imitation of their own cry or placing a gaudy red flannel on a stick tied to a fence. Do not feed the kea. Satellite tracking. Many birds are now banded and the DOC is interested in their activity and will relocate nuisance birds. Photo. Yellow around the eyes and around there beak means they are juvenile birds. This completely darkens by 3 to 4 years. 1 2
A true mountaineer!
Don't be 'kealess'!
The kea is a comic and interesting bird that loves to create a little bit of havoc. My son still remembers loosing his machine-knitted touristy red woollen toboggan, with a pom-pom, and a pattern of white sheep around rib, from the Mt Dobson ski field car park on a snowy day. He had placed it on the bonnet of the car. It was taken away by a kea. The kea is a hawk like parrot with a sharp curved beak, dark green plumage, brightened by patches of scarlet-orange under the wing and descend to the trees in the mountain valleys in search of food. They are strong fliers found in areas with the noblest scenery. Males are up to 20% larger than females and they can live up to fifty years. The ski fields are a winter playground for the keas - their favourite items are anything attached to a car.
Southland Times 29 May 2009
Te Anau police have identified a thief who brazenly stole a British man's passport, but will not pursue an arrest or attempt to recover the document. A police spokeswoman said a Scottish man reported the theft of his passport from a bus heading into Milford Sound earlier this week. The passport had been in a coloured courier bag that attracted the attention of a cheeky kea when the bus stopped at the Chasm on the Milford road. While the driver was in a compartment beneath the bus, the kea grabbed the package. When the driver turned back, the startled kea flew off into the bush with the package. It has not been recovered and considering the size of Fiordland, is unlikely to be. The Scottish man, who did not want to be identified, said he had been waiting for about a month for the passport to be returned from Wellington. "My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. I'll never look at a kea in the same way." A replacement from the British High Commission in Wellington could take as long as six weeks and cost up to $400. He said the bus driver did not know what was in the package but his "pale expression" convinced him he wasn't joking that it contained a passport. The Scotsman did not hold the driver or the company responsible. "They do us a great service by bringing stuff in and it was just one of those unfortunate things. It just happens. "You can't make that sort of stuff up.- By Mark Sutton, Southland Times
Timaru Herald 02/02/2013
A thief stole hundreds of dollars from Peter Leach's campervan, but left no fingerprints - because the thief has no fingers. Mr Leach, a visitor from Glasgow, Scotland, stopped at Arthur's Pass on Wednesday to take in the views at a rest area along State Highway 73. He left the windows down as he snapped photos of the scenery, including one of an unusual bird on the ground near his vehicle. Little did he know he'd become a target for the local criminal element. "A Canadian couple walked by and said: 'We've just seen that bird take something out of your campervan'," Mr Leach laughed. "It took all the money I had. I was left with $40 in my pocket." The unsuspecting tourist had stashed his travel cash - about NZ$1300 - in a small cloth drawstring bag and left it on the dashboard, where the bird apparently found it while rummaging through other items. The kea grabbed the bag and made a clean aerial getaway. Fortunately, Mr Leach had old friends nearby, Mr and Mrs Fisher of Normanby, who lent him cash to tide him over. Hoping to recover his money through travel insurance, Mr Leach sheepishly reported the incident to Timaru police. "The man I dealt with was very serious for the first few questions," Mr Leach said. "Then he said, 'Do you mind if I just stop to laugh?' "Mr Leach said he had never heard of the mischievous kea before his visit. Lesson learned. "The birds are now lining their nests with £50 notes."
Timaru Herald 21/02/2013
In the past couple of weeks, five kea and a native falcon have been electrocuted at Alpine Energy's Unwin Hut Substation at the entrance to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. A check of the substation found a further two dead kea and a dead falcon. Falcons are a threatened species and there are estimated to be 5000 kea in New Zealand. When asked, Alpine Energy staff said dead kea had been found in the substation in the past. Repellent has been sprayed around the substation and anywhere else the birds might land nearby. The repellent made kea feel sick when they ingested it. Hopefully they would remember that and not go near it again. High country farmers have sprayed the mixture on sheep in an attempt to deter kea from attacking stock. Trials of the substance on forestry crews' vehicles appear to have discouraged kea from damaging them.
Keas - kill sheep
In 1946 the kea killed about 1000 sheep on Mesopotamia. "The keas were vicious in 1950. They would make a hole about the size of a half crown right over a kidney, I have seen it. Most of the keas that came this far were killers." said Mum, O.B. About 1950 Dad was away at "Lilydale", Sherwood Downs, Fairlie, shooting keas. He got five with one shot, with a shot gun. Dad was a good shot so he did not like shooting. In the mean time other keas where attacking his own rams five miles away on "Ribbonwood" (altitude 1800 feet). Mum looked out and saw the nine the rams were lying down and wondered why. Some of them were dead. The day before nine Corriedale rams had been delivered and each had a large red rattle spot on their back. They had been attacked by keas in broad daylight and Mum thinks it was the red rattle mark on their backs that attracted the keas. The rams had only been on "Ribbonwood" a day. They had been recently purchased in Christchurch. There was a shortage of good rams after the war. S.P Bray, the Mackenzie's of Clayton and Galwey's all ran the Corridale so each gave Dad two rams each to get him through that year. The bounty in 1950 that time was 2s 6d per beak Seagulls would also be shot - as they would peck out the eyes of new born lambs then the lambs would have to be put down.
Timaru Herald, 9 October 1883, Page 2
At a recent meeting of though Lake County Council, a member of the Council, Mr H. Campbell, of Wanaka Station, has been affording valuable assistance to his fellow-runholders in the direction of combating the rabbits and keas by lecturing on the matter. He calculated that on his own station about 30,000 sheep have been destroyed by keas in the last fifteen years. He himself had killed about 3000 keas during the last twelve years — sometimes as many us 500 in one year and still there were keas on the run. They were not as numerous as formerly, but still they were : very destructive. He thought they were getting worse, in fact, as he heard they had , attacked two horses at Upper Shotover the week before. Last winter they attacked a mare of his on the Wanaka, and he believed would have killed her had not some tar been put on the wound. Mr Campbell also stated he had discovered that seagulls could be destructive to young lambs by nipping off their tongues as soon as dropped. He thought settlers should kill the seagulls too whenever they got the opportunity."
Timaru Herald, 19 August 1885, Page 2
A correspondent at Tekapo writes :— Last year the Government gave a grant of £1 for every £1 subscribed by settlers in the Mackenzie Country, up to £100, for the destruction of keas. The sum of £70 was subscribed, and a like amount by Government, which was put in the Bank. Messrs McGregor, Hope, and Rees (Sheep Inspector), acted as trustees, and paid 2s per beak delivered by the subscribers. The fund has just been exhausted, the result being that 1400 keas have been destroyed. Putting five sheep down to each bird, which is a very moderate allowance for these destructive birds of prey, this means some 7000 sheep saved to the district. It is no uncommon thing for one of these birds to kill two or three sheep in one night.
Timaru Herald Saturday 30 November 1889
Mackenzie County Council held at Burke's Pass. Present - Messrs John McGregor (chairman), W. Saunders, James I. Milne, F.R. Gillingham and A. Cowan.
Mr W.A.P. Sutton, Sheep inspector, Timaru, wrote, enclosing receipts for 41 keas which had been killed within the county by Messrs Black and Sibbald. - Subsidy at the rate of 6d per head was passed for payment.
Timaru Herald, 14 January 1892, Page 3
The ordinary monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held at the library, Fairlie Creek, on Monday, 11th January, and was attended by the following members : — Messrs James I. Milne (chairman), P. R. Dickson, Robert Rutherford, and F. B. Gillingham. The clerk reported that 259 kea beaks had been received up to the 31st December. It was decided that they be purchased at the rate of 6d each.
Timaru Herald, 11 August 1892, Page 4
From Mr A. Douglass, stock inspector, Timaru, forwarding a cheque for £l 7s, subsidy on 54 Kea beaks, paid for and destroyed by the Council.
Timaru Herald, 10 November 1893, Page 3
Patron — Mr A E G Rhodes, M.H.R. President— Mr J I Milne. Vice-presidents— Messrs J E Goodwin and J D Hamilton. Directors— Messrs J McGregor, J E Goodwin, F B Gillingham, M. McLeod, J Gall, A O Gilmour, A Dunnett, R Scott, S Fraser, J Binney, B L Banks, A H McLean, Dr Dyden, J I Hamilton, J Dopping, P H Stack, A McMaster, J H Wiltshire, J Siegert. W Wreford, W Dixon, P O'Donohue, C J LeCren, S Struthers, and W Watts. Judges : General sports -A.H. Mclean and J. I. Mile. Bag pipe music W. Bain, D McMillan, M McLeod, and A. Dunnett.
Menagerie Race, £1, 5s and 1s — J Dundas Hamilton's drake 1, Dr Dryden's kea 2. Two seagulls were also run. This race as was expected caused a deal of amusement, and resulted in a dead heat between the drake and the kea; on being run off it resulted as above.
Timaru Herald, 5 April 1898, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held yesterday. The Treasury forwarded £4 18s 6d subsidy at 6d each on 197 kea beaks, and £15 6s 5d balance of grant for planting willows and poplars at Lake Pukaki.
Timaru Herald, 7 November 1899, Page 3
The months meeting of tin- Mackenzie County Council was held yesterday. £5 11s subsidy on 222 kea beaks at 6d each
Painting by George Sheriff
1906. Others testifying to the keas eating meat are Messrs. W. N. Ford, J. Morgan, J. McIntosh, John McGregor, A. Watherston, H. T. Heckler, P. Dunbar, &c. Without going into the evidence of these men, I think enough has been said to prove that many keas, whether wild or tame, will eat meat and even relish it. Not only does the kea eat meat, but twice it has been seen acting the cannibal.
Hawera & Normanby Star, 10 January 1906, Page 8
Mr Robert Guthrie of Burkes Pass, who has spent a great many years in the Mackenzie Country, and claims to have as good a knowledge of the kea as anyone can have, assured a member of the Timaru Herald staff that the kea — that is, some of him — is really as mischievous as he has been supposed to be. Mr Guthrie has actually seen keas attacking sheep, and has lain in wait for them with a gun to protect his flocks. The merino on the mountains is in the habit of camping in the same place night after night, and the kea, which is of nocturnal habits, visits the camps. Mr Guthrie is convinced from what he has seen that only a few keas learn how to kill sheep, and in one case he learned to identify by its call a particular sheep killer, and tried for some time watching the "camp" night after night with a gun, to get rid of the pest, and finally succeeded in shooting it. He states that he saw this bird alight on the back of a sheep, and by a single sharp stroke of its beak to so injure the spinal cord as to paralyse the hinder legs of the sheep. He had examined sheep so paralysed, and found a single wound in the skin and bruise beneath. The sheep's hind legs spread out helplessly, and the animal became an easy prey to other birds than the "killer." Mr Schlaepfer, who was present at the conversation, said that he had seen sheep which had recovered from the attack of keas, a hole in their back having healed up. Mr Burnett, of Mount Cook station, would not endorse the acquittal of the kea by the Wellington Philosophical Society. He said that before the meeting of the society hundreds of his sheep had been annually lost by the depredations of keas.
Otago Witness, 4 April 1906, Page 6
Mr Robert Guthrie of Burkes Pass, who has spent about 30 years in the Mackenzie Country, writes at some length in the Timaru Herald detailing his personal experiences of the kea as a sheep-killer. So convinced is he that the kea is a pest to pastoralists in alpine country that he insists upon the duty of absolutely exterminating it. He states that he has frequently watched the kea among sheep, and he believes they often ride on sheep for the fun of it. Their habit of pecking at everything leads them to peck at the sheep's backs, and it could not take them long to learn to do this purposely. Mr Guthrie does not attach any importance to the "kidney fat" theory; the less because he has kept lame 'teas, and found that they do not care for tallow, preferring lean meat. This is borne out by Mr G. S. [sic] Rutherford, who says he has seen dead sheep on Mistake station (Upper Tekapo) with the flesh stripped off their backs. Mr Guthrie indicates a cause of mortality among sheep attacked by keas which has not been insisted upon, if it has even been mentioned before. The keas are omnivorous. and eat putrid mutton as well as fresh, and Mr Guthrie has found so many kea wounded sheep dying of blood-poisoning that he convinced they had been infected with this fatal disease by keas whose beaks were filthy from eating carrion previously.
West Coast Times, 21 September 1909, Page 2
Some time ago a writer, 'who signed his letter "A.L.P." wrote to the Timaru Herald saying that the charge of sheep-killing brought against the kea had never been proved. Mr Donald MacRae, of Rhoborough Downs, Mackenzie Country, has written to the Herald stating that in the winter of 1908, when he had his sheep down on the low country, many of whom were killed by keas. He and several of his men were out both day and night watching for them. They shot several keas, but still the killing went on just the same. At last he mustered his sheep into a paddock and erected a yard with wire netting on the block he had mustered, where he had three rams killed the night previous, and in this yard he put about thirty sheep. He lay alongside of the yard, and at 7 p.m. a kea came down on the back of a ram in the yard, and whilst it was on the sheep's back in the act of killing it he shot it. Mr G. R. Marriner, curator of the Wanganui Museum, has written to the Herald, stating that if "A.L.P." can prove to the editor's satisfaction that the kea is innocent he will give £5 to the Timaru Hospital.
Wanganui Herald, 20 January 1909, Page 5 THE KEA.
Mr G. R. Marriner, curator of the local Museum, has written a very interesting book about "The Kea — a New Zealand Problem." The book, which has been published by Messrs Marriner Bros, and Co., of Christchurch, is well illustrated and excellently printed, both letterpress and illustrations being of a high order of merit. The author gives a full description of the kea, its habitat and ways, together with a discussion of the theories advanced to explain its sheep-killing propensities. In his preface the author points out that for half a century the kea has been accused of being a sheep-killer, and accusation, persistently and vehemently made, has drawn the attention of the scientific and non-scientific alike. Mr Marriner says that not all that has been told of the kea is truer "Much has been wildest conjecture, part is but colourly accurate, and all. until lately, was more or less uncertain." There seemed to be room for a careful and detailed examination of the subject, and that examination is made by Mr Marriner in his interesting book.
Otago Witness, 30 December 1908, Page 11
MR MARRINER'S BOOK. The monograph, which contains 150 pages, deals mainly, of course, with the grave charge made against the kea in respect to the destruction of sheep, but it also supplies a great deal of information relating to the bird's haunts and habits. It has been the custom to regard the remarkable change in the kea's diet as its only interesting characteristic. As a matter of fact, the kea is a bird with many quaint habits. It is boody, inquisitive, playful, and mischievous. The late Mr T. H. Potts tells a story of a kea which entered a shepherd's hut by the chimney when the owner was away. On his return the owner found his visitor inside, surrounded by the signs of the efforts it had made to pass away the time. Blankets, bedding, and clothes were torn. Pannikins and plates were scattered about, and anything that could be broken was broken, evidently with great care and industry. Even the window frames bore marks of attacks from the bird's powerful bill. Mr Marriner relates his own experiences when he went out into the mountain kea hunting, and he describes the rugged country in which the notorious sheep-killer lives. In delivering judgment, he still leaves a little room for continuing the controversy in regard to the kea's guilt. He claims that "as far as human evidence can be relied on" he has proved that the kea kills sheep, but he admits that some people will not feel satisfied on the point until a man of scientific standing has seen the bird in the act of sheep-killing. All his witnesses agree that, the kea likes to kill in the early morning and in the evening. When it attacks in the middle of the day it usually selects dull or foggy weather. On account of these habits the kea, which has beep photographed in many attitudes, has never been snapped while killing, and it has not been possible to call in the camera to bear witness against it.
Evening Post, 16 October 1908, Page 4 George H. Marriner, Wanganui Museum
It is a well known fact that all keas do not kill sheep, and some will even not touch meat. The names of about forty men who had actually seen the kea kill sheep. The accounts given by these men were printed in full in the Christchurch daily press on Tuesday, 9th October, 1905. and the result of my three years' observations and enquiries was published in full in the Transactions of N.Z. Institute, vol xxxix. page 271. In this the names and addresses of the men are given, with a full account of what they had seen. These men were not, as many people suppose, merely rabbiters and shepherds, but in most cases owners and managers of stations, head shepherds, etc., and included in the list are the names of men who are respected all over the South Island. I have made several trips in the kea's domain, both in winter and summer, and have found the recently mangled sheep, and, as far as I can ascertain, the accounts of the men were upheld by what I saw.
O bird of twinkling eye and plumage gay,
Soaring in glorious heights beyond our ken,
Threading the branching beauty of the glen,
What clouds have fall'n upon thy shining way!
Preying thyself, thou art become a prey,
A hovering terror feared and cursed of men ;
For faithful shepherd needs must smite again
Whate'er his harmless flock would tear and slay.
A madness like thine alpine torrent's own,
Shrouding thee in the mists of lowering hate,
Hurries thee to the shade of nether gloom,
Dashes thee from thy bush-clad mountain throne
To deep disgrace and ignominious fate,
And seals thee with irrevocable doom.
—ALBERT B. CHAPPELL
The Mountain Spirit: a Glimpse of Mount Cook.
Saw ye a peak! 'mid the ranges—
Majestic, where peaks are high—
Cradled in billows of sombre mist
Above where the keas fly ?
Yon is a resting-place reserved
For kingly folk alone;
None but the bravest feet may touch
The Mountain Spirit's throne.
Watched ye at night o'er the ranges,
Through Earth's remotest ways,
Like shades of far-off splendour, steal
A nameless purple haze ?
'Tis a carpet of ether weaving
With restfulness replete
Laid down where gulley-ways would chafe
The Mountain Spirit's feet.
Heard ye the North Wind chasing
Repose from the digger's hut,
When the rumbling sluice had ceased to flow
And the hydrant lips were shut
By the hand of icy winter ?
Ye trembled at the noise,
Not recognizing in your dread
Felt ye a heart-deep loneness
Come o'er ye, as winter creeps,
When twilight set on your whare-roof
Away from the mountain peaks ?
A longing to leave the paths and plains
Wherever the feet might rove,
For a hut on the shady range, to share
The Mountain Spirit's love !
Daughters of pine-clad valleys !
Sons of Zealandia's state !
Children of splendour ! The Spirit calls,
How long shall your answer wait ?
A claim on the mountain range is yours,
However its peaks may rise—
For Ye are the Spirit's heirs—whose throne
Cloud-lapped in the ranges lies.
John Maclennan (1905)
Auckland Star, 21 May 1938, Page 12
This would I give thee to-night
Ere thine eyes seek sleep—
Down from snow-grass to tussock
The red wing's sweep;
Kea's wing, sharp and stubborn,
Ranging the valley,
Where the plumed heads of the toi-toi
Meet at riverheads' rally;
Peaks of a thousand snows
White in their waiting;
Loose in the beds of torrents
High boulders grating;
No scent sweeter or finder
Than the dark smell of earth;
No cry cleaner or kinder
Than ewe crying on birth;
No hue less sullen
Than the burning gorse-petal—
Sky, wing and sheepfold
Sculptured in metal.
by Robin Hyde
Otago Witness 20 November 1907, Page 51
J.W., Timaru. Reports have been current from time to time of lambs having been attacked by stoats, but these have never been authenticated. Doubtless a stoat would attack a lamb if compelled to do so by hunger.
Springtime in the South Island
While travelling around the South Island for twelve days in November 2009, and clocking up 3522kms (2188 miles), showing our beautiful country to visitors, it could have been considered a bird watching expedition. I did bring a pair of binoculars and even carried them up the Rob Roy Track but didn't see any birds there except a picture of a kea on the DOC sign, warning not to feed them. Elsewhere we did see native birds - many of them were flightless birds. I was pleased to see a dozen or so Pukekos some with chicks, [watch for the yellow and black Pukeko Wildlife Crossing road sign, on the way to Akaroa] just before Little River and at Lake Brunner and on the west side of Geddies Pass on the way back from Akaroa - over to Lyttelton along with pairs of paradise ducks and along the Trentham Rd near Lake Ophua. The Keas were at all in Fiordland at The Divide, the Chasm on a dead tree and up to no good on couple of the vehicles and at the Lake Marian car park down the Hollyford Road and both entrances to the Homer Tunnel walking along the side of the road pass the cars lined up waiting to go through the tunnel. We probably saw about 25 keas in all and all in one day. We did not see any keas in Westland, Otago or Canterbury and we where up at Mt. Cook, Rob Roy Track, Wanaka and the glaciers on the West Coast.
"They're big, gluttonous, loud, aggressive, cunning, and dirty, and they love it in our region. is a pest that gives the possum a run for its money when it comes to sheer destructive power. They consume large amounts of grass and crops, including winter feed crops for stock, like turnips and swedes. They also foul pasture with their droppings, causing stock to refuse grass in those areas. A male goose can weigh up to 6.5 kgs and will eat the same amount as a sheep in a day. " wrote the editor of the Timaru Herald 14 June 2010. " Canada Geese were introduced as a game bird into NZ and have become a pest in some areas. In 1905 fifty Branta canadensis were imported from eastern US by the Tourist Department. The North Canterbury Acclimatization Society obtained ten more from Vancouver in 1920. Naturalisation was successful in the high country east of the Southern Alps. The giant Canada goose, maxima, were also introduced as a gift from US President Theodore Roosevelt.
18/03/2011 Timaru Herald
It is now open season on Canada geese, with the birds' status changed from game to pest. Conservation Minister announced yesterday that the birds had been removed from Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act 1953 and listed on Schedule 5, meaning hunters will no longer require a permit to shoot them. Her decision was a response to years of concern voiced by farmers and landowners. "The economic cost to farmers that these birds cause is huge. It is estimated that four to five geese will consume the equivalent amount of grass that a sheep does, and this impact is further compounded by associated fouling. The fact the species' population had remained about 35,000 over the past 15 years suggested the current arrangement was not working. "The main area where Canada geese pose a problem in South Canterbury is near the Wainono Lagoon, which comes under the control of DOC. They form noisy flocks and are often regarded as a nuisance in areas where large numbers occur on amenity grassland and parks, plus farms. The total South Island Canada goose population is about 32,000 birds – in stock-unit terms, this is equivalent to a 1200-cow dairy herd.
Wainono Lagoon, about 376ha is a shallow, usually less than 1m, a freshwater lagoon is about 8km northeast of Waimate. It is separated from the sea by a narrow gravel berm. Habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, coastal birds and native fish. Threatened species include the Canterbury mudfish, long fin eel, giant kokopu and lamprey. Migratory, coastal and wetland birds include white heron, royal spoonbill, wrybill, black swan, Canada goose, grey teal and pied stilt. Track Walks in and around Waimate
Timaru Herald 7 Jan. 2012
Up to 18,000 canada geese have been destroyed in a series of moult culls across the central South Island. In the most recent cull, on Thursday, about 1500 birds at Wainono Lagoon were killed. Before June, when the birds lost their protected status, Fish and Game had managed population numbers. The birds are considered a pest because they eat pasture and crops and foul paddocks and waterways. Moult culls, using several methods, had been conducted at Ohau, Pukaki, Tekapo and Ellesmere, with more planned for the area this month. During the birds' moult they are unable to fly and shelter on bodies of water. Culling methods depended on the location. A helicopter and shooters were used at Wainono. A government grant of $100,000 was made as a one-off payment to set up the cull programme throughout New Zealand. The grant has been jointly paid by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, attracting criticism from conservation groups which said half the "subsidy" had come from DOC at a time of job cuts. DOC programme biodiversity manager said DOC's role was to provide the relevant authority for Federated Farmers to undertake the culls on public conservation land. The authority included a range of conditions to ensure public safety, animal welfare and legislative criteria were met. Culls on DOC land would be taking place in the Upper Rangitata, Upper Rakaia and Ashburton Lakes basin over the next couple of weeks.
Timaru Herald 28/01/2012
Federated Farmers have completed their moult cull of canada geese, having disposed of about 18,000 birds. The cull replaced ones previously done by Fish and Game, but did not preclude further culls by other groups or individuals given the bird now has no legal protection. Between 5500-6000 geese had been culled from around Omarama, Mackenzie and South Canterbury. that number did not take into account geese culled from private control operations and individuals, unconnected to the farmer lobby group's geese control group, which would have pushed cull numbers higher. We also estimate the South Island population of canada geese has been reduced to about 40,000 birds. That's still double what Fish & Game agreed to in the 1995 South Island canada goose management plan." The cull was a combined operation involving high country farmers, Christchurch International Airport and assistance from the Department of Conservation. Canada geese were an aggressive environmental pest. Without control, they would outcompete native waterfowl for food and nesting sites. They also posed a very real threat to aviation. Canada geese also produce prodigious quantities of excrement that is not only full of bacteria, but is passed directly into sensitive waterways like Lake Ellesmere.
They also competed with livestock for food and damaged pasture and crops. These birds have no redeeming qualities aside from providing sport for hunters.
Nov. 2009 We saw some Wekas with chicks at the Milford Sound car park and Lake Brunner and Yellow-eyed Penguins on the beach down Bushy Road, at Oamaru, from the free hide, they come ashore in the afternoon, not at dusk. To get there follow the Yellow Eyes Penguin Colony AA road sign at the corner of Tyne and Tamar street, Oamaru. We watched some Native Wood Pigeons on the power lines in Geraldine and in Talbot's Forest and at Lake Matheson. A greenish grey chucker was running up the road at Peel Forest. There were pairs of paradise ducks in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Geddies Pass and Mt. Cook all with ducklings. We spotted a South Island Pied Oystercatcher with one chick at the Ben Ohau Track, at the Rob Roy Track river flat, and at my brother’s farm. Each time we saw them, the birds tried to lead us away from the chick. It was the same with the paradise ducks – the broken wing act. We saw a pair of Variable Oystercatcher at Moreaki Beach. We also saw and heard the Black Fantail at Riccartion Bush in Christchurch and Peel Forest. We watched a couple of captive, banded, Takahe at The Te Anua DOC Wildlife Centre and a nesting Canada goose. On the Pukaki Canal I took a photo of a pair of New Zealand Scaup, diving ducks. We saw many sea birds including Terns at Birdling’s Flat on the way to Akaroa, well worth a stop just to see the waves, Little Shags, Mollymawks and Albatrosses nesting at the Otago Peninsula. Of course I knew the Australian Black Swans would be on Lake Forsyth, Banks Peninsula but I didn’t expect them on Lake McGregor, near Lake Tekapo. At Lake Brunner I saw my first Tui, feeding on flax nectar, what a treat. We watched seals at the hide just down from the Moeraki lighthouse, on the "Monarch" cruise to the Otago Harbour entrance and on Seal Rock on the Milford Sound cruise. Saw the noisy Australian plovers on my brother’s farm in the Edievale district, Tapanui, West Otago and elsewhere and Sydney. At Timaru saw the Australian Welcome Swallow nesting. At Mt Cook saw the chaffinch at the Whitehorse parking lot and mallards with ducklings at Mona Vale, CHCH, Queenstown, Timaru and the Christchurch Botanic gardens. On the first of the Blue Lakes at Mt Cook we saw a pair of paradise ducks and on the next Blue Lake saw two pairs of Canada Geese. I didn't walk to the third lake. They are really green not blue. We saw seagulls, the Red-billed Gull in Christchurch, walking the parking lots, scavenging and the Southern Black-backed Gull in Nelson.
Timaru Herald, 16 July 1894, Page 2
A Native at New Plymouth caught with a number of tuis in his kit sagely remarked that it was no use Government protecting the tui when the pakeha was destroying the bush, the home of the bird.
Otago Witness 22 June 1893, Page 45
Dear Dot, — I am going to tell you a little about a pleasant trip I had with my mother and my brother and sister to Aswick station. We left Shag Point at 8 o'clock in the morning passing through Oamaru and Timaru by the main line, then taking the train up the Albury branch line. We arrived at 8 o'clock at night at Fairlie, and were met by our friends and driven to Aswich [sic; Ashwick] station, which is a very beautiful place. I visited some old schoolmates of mine, whose parents reside in a house at the station. The residence of Mr Seddon is surrounded by a lovely garden, very pretty plantations of ornamental and forest trees ; so also is the house in which my friends are living. I saw a fine little Shetland pony which could curry Mr Seddon's two little children at once. I saw plenty of paradise ducks, blue ducks, hares, pigeons, and woodhens. I was out for a day's hunting, and saw some wild pigs. So, dear Dot, I think that Aswick station is the prettiest place I ever saw, and I enjoyed myself very much during our stay. — Yours truly,
March Johnsen (ago 12 years). Shag Point, June 11.
Otago Witness 14 July 1909, Page 4
The Canadian geese imported by the South Canterbury Acclimatisation Society are said to have multiplied well. Several times lately sights of wild geese (believed to be the Canadian geese) have been seen on the wing in the Temuka district. The mallard ducks at the bird sanctuary at Temuka have bred, and the society will have a good many to liberate this year. The pintail ducks, on the other hand, have never bred.
Daily Southern Cross, 17 September 1862,
We have received intelligence of the arrival at Auckland, on the 8th of April, of the ship 'Cashmere,' Captain Petheridge, which left St. Katherine's Docks on the 9th of December with the addition, to in ordinary freight, of a consignment of 147 singing and other birds, intended for acclimatisation in New Zealand Of this number it appeals that eighty eight were alive when the ship reached its destination—a much larger proportion than, all circumstances consulted, it was expected would have survived. There were placed on board 9 partridges 2 pheasants, 12 blackbirds, 13 thrushes, 12 skylarks, 8 goldfinches, 8 bullfinches, 9 linnets, 16 chaffinches, 16 sparrows, 12 starlings, 2 Canadian geese, 4 barnacle geese-, 12 teal, and 12 wigeon — 1 17 buds in all, occupying 81 cages All these birds were wild caught, none of them having been eared by hand from the nest. It may be as well to add a list of the eighty-eight buds which have got safely out There are— 4 partridges 10 blackbirds, 11 thrushes, 10 skylarks, 4 goldfinches, 3 bullfinches 6 linnets, 6 chaffinches, 7 sparrows, 9 starlings, 2 Canadian geese, 4 barnacle geese, 11 teal, and one wigeon. The same solicitude about the health and comfort of the birds appears to have been manifested as in the Australian consignment in 1858. May they thrive in their bloodless and unobtrusive mission of colonization. — The Field.
Enjoy these mountain clowns - but for their sake and ours don't feed them!